Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hawaii tourism projects get $2.7M boost, lawmakers scrutinize Abercrombie's preschool plan, UH rec center 14 months behind schedule, Michelle Obama on Maui, indigent moms get attorneys, fire damages Hawaii Five-0 star's home, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Waikiki Spam Jam file photo (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has awarded more than $2.7 million in 2014 grants to 138 organizations statewide that enrich tourism through culture, natural resources and county-specific events across the isles. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has selected 138 statewide programs and events to receive funding and other resources through its Product Enrichment Programs for 2014, the state’s tourism agency announced Monday. Pacific Business News.

Some of the programs include Chinese New Year Festival 2014, Waikiki Spam Jam, World Whale Day on Maui and the Kau Coffee Festival on the Big Island. Associated Press.

Some lawmakers are wary of the Abercrombie administration's plans to move ahead with state-funded preschool, calling a nearly $6 million funding request premature ahead of a constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot. The proposed amendment, which lawmakers reluctantly agreed to last session, will ask voters whether public funds should be spent on private preschool programs. Star-Advertiser.

A top priority for the governor is a $4.5 million funding request for 32 preschool classrooms at public schools in underserved or rural Hawaii communities. Associated Press.
Downer 

New Head of Cultural Preservation in Hawaii Pledges Transparency. Federal and state officials are hoping that Alan Downer, who spent the last 27 years working for the Navajo Nation, will help mend the agency's relationships with the public, shore up its internal operations and, most importantly, lead the agency out of the cross-hairs of the National Park Service. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Republican Party has turned down a plea from the Hawaii Health Connector to use party leadership and legislators to recruit for the exchange. Hawaii Reporter.

State roundup for January 7. Associated Press.

Oahu

A recreation center project being built at the University of Hawaii's flagship Manoa campus has suffered further delays and is now expected to be completed one year and two months late, Hawaii News Now learned Monday.  The $33 million project is being funded in part by $100-a-year athletic fees that UH Manoa began charging students in the spring of 2011.

Fire damages Alex O'Loughlin's Diamond Head home. Firefighters were called to Hawaii Five-0 star Alex O'Loughlin's home Monday afternoon after neighbors say they heard a loud boom. Hawaii News Now.

Last year was a record year for Oahu's housing market, as the median price for single-family houses and condominiums reached new highs. Yet, the growth was a relatively modest 5 percent, which economists predict will pale in comparison with much stronger gains this year and beyond. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu officials brokered a deal Monday to resuscitate the $142 million sale of 12 public affordable housing complexes to a private developer. The agreement relies on city coffers to make the transaction possible. Civil Beat.

The continuation of negotiations between the city and the group that agreed to pay $142 million for the lease interest in 12 Oahu housing complexes is contingent on the city's agreement to arrange "seller financing" to the partners. Star-Advertiser.

A painting project at a downtown Honolulu high-rise has been temporarily put on hold following complaints to the Department of Health. KHON2.

An ongoing stalemate between Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration and the Honolulu Ethics Commission could have long-standing implications for the ways city officials address government corruption and misconduct. Civil Beat.

A state judge has fined a defense lawyer $250 for telling the jury in federal agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial that the man he shot had resisted arrest in a prior case. City prosecutors wanted Circuit Judge Karen Ahn on Monday to fine Karl Blanke $1,000 and prohibit the Virginia lawyer from practicing law here. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Indigent Hawaii parents who face losing custody of their children are guaranteed the right to a court-appointed attorney, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling overturns a decision to terminate parental rights of a Kona mom who was 15 when she gave birth in 2009. Associated Press.

With a flourish of a brush stroke, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi set in motion Monday a project that promises to put a new face on downtown Hilo businesses. Tribune-Herald.

A month has passed since Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113, limiting the use of genetically engineered crops on the Big Island, but the Hawaii County Council may still get a second helping of the contentious issue. Ka‘u/South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford is bringing her own bill that would ban all modified crops back for discussion after the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee voted it down last September. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island residents and visitors celebrated North Hawaii Community Hospital founder, Hawaii Island philanthropist and pacemaker inventor Earl Bakken’s 90th birthday Monday. West Hawaii Today.

December was a generally weak month for the housing markets on Hawaii island and Kauai, though the softness did little to undermine what was mostly a positive year. Star-Advertiser.

Almost two years since it was completed, The Kohala Center’s Health Impact Assessment on Hawaii County’s Agriculture Plan has garnered national attention and helped produce meaningful effects on the local food system. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A caravan of Maui police cars and black sport utility vehicles was sighted near Oprah Winfrey's house in Kula on Sunday morning, local residents said, fueling speculation that first lady Michelle Obama is visiting the island. Maui News.

With the use of a new one-man robotic total station, police traffic investigators could be spending half as much time mapping the scenes of fatal crashes. Maui News.

Hawaiian Airlines today announced plans to add daily non-stop service between Los Angeles and Maui this summer. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has spent about $14,000 campaigning for a yes vote in its current special election related to smart meters. Garden Island.

Anyone interested in ocean safety is invited to attend the Kauai Water Safety Task Force meeting at 3 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Department of Health office on Umi Street in Lihue. Garden Island.

It has taken a group of local residents and community volunteers more than three years to begin construction on a dog park in Wailua Homesteads Park. But it only took one night and one act to set those efforts back. Garden Island.

Food bank targets reached. Garden Island.